Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  March Air Force Base
Location: California
Home of: 22nd Bomb Wing,  106th Bomb Wing (non-SAC), 320th Bomb Wing  
Status:  March Air Reserve Base
Links:  452nd Air Mobility WingMarch Air Museum

   March AFB was realigned under Base Closure and Realignment [BRAC] III announced in March 1993, with a realignment date of March 31, 1996. March Air Reserve Base is named for 2nd Lt. Peyton C. March, who died Feb. 18, 1918. It is located 9 mi. southeast of Riverside, California. The base covers about 6,700 acres. Of these 6,700 acres, the Air Force Reserves retain 2,258 acres at the airport. The airfield's 13,300-foot runway is the longest in California.
     The attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 quickly brought March Field into the business of training air crews. Throughout the war many soon-to-be-famous bombardment groups performed their final training at March before embarking for duty in the Pacific. During this period the base doubled in area and at the zenith of the war effort supported approximately 75,000 troops.
      After the war, March reverted to its operational role and became a Tactical Air Command base. The main unit, the famed 1st Fighter Wing, brought the first jet aircraft, the F-80, to the base. This deviation from the traditional bombardment training and operations functions did not long endure. In 1949, March became a part of the relatively new Strategic Air Command. Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force along with the 33d Communications Squadron moved to March from Colorado Springs in the same year. Also in 1949, the 22d Bombardment Wing moved from Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas to March. Thereafter, these three units remained as dominant features of base activities. From 1949 to 1953, the B-29 Superfortresses dominated the flightline at March Air Force Base. For four months, July to October, the 22d saw action over Korea.
      The wing converted from the propeller-driven B-29s to the B-47 jet bombers and their supporting tankers, the KC-97s. The KC-97s belonging to the 17th and 22d Air Refueling Squadrons represented an jump in technology.

      The end of the 1960s saw March Air Force Base preparing to exchange its B-47s and KC-97s for updated bombers and tankers. Increasing international tensions in Europe and elsewhere by September 16, 1963, brought March its first B-52B bomber, "The City of Riverside." Soon 15 more of the bombers appeared on the flightline along with new KC-135 jet "Stratotankers." March's first KC-135, "The Mission Bell" arrived on October 4, 1963. For the next twenty years this team would dominate the skies over what had come to be called the Inland Empire as the 22d Bombardment Wing played a feature role in the Strategic Air Command's mission. During the conflict in Southeast Asia, the 22d Bombardment Wing deployed its planes several times in operations such as Young Tiger, Rolling Thunder, Arc Light and Linebacker II.      

March AFB - circa 1970

     Several post-Vietnam adjustments brought the retirement of the wing's last B-52 on November 9, 1982. This event signaled yet another era for March Air Force Base and for the 22d. The 22d Bombardment Wing , so long a key ingredient in March's long history, would become an air refueling wing with the new KC-10 tanker.
      Operating under a caretaker agreement, the March Joint Powers Authority (JPA) began operating and maintaining the realigned portion of March Air Force Base on April 1, 1996. The JPA will operate and maintain utility systems in both the realigned area (4,400 acres in the base proper), and in the Air Force Reserve cantonment area (the airport with 2, 258 acres.) The March Joint Powers Authority membership includes the County of Riverside, and the Cities of Moreno Valley, Perris and Riverside.
      In 1993, March Air Force Base was selected for realignment. In August 1993, the 445th Airlift Wing transferred to March from Norton AFB, Calif. On January 3, 1994, the 22d Air Refueling Wing was transferred to McConnell AFB, Kansas, and the 722d Air Refueling Wing stood up at March. As part of the Air Force's realignment and transition, March's two Reserve units, the 445th Airlift Wing and the 452d Air refueling Wing were deactivated and their personnel and equipment joined under the 452d Air Mobility Wing on April 1, 1994. On April 1, 1996, March officially became March Air Reserve Base.
      The Air Force spent $37 million in 1996 on remediation and was authorized to spend $23 million in 1997. The initial cost estimate to restore March was set at about $300 million and was to be completed by year 2010. A fast track cleanup initiative was expected to cost about $170 million and to be finished by 2000.
     The March Field Museum Foundation with nearly 1,000 supporters is now solely responsible for maintaining and displaying approximately 5,000 museum items and 50 aircraft on loan from the Air Force. All Air Force financial contributions ended April 1, 1996 when March Air Force Base was realigned.
     The 452nd Air Mobility Wing represents the only unit-equipped mobility wing in the Reserve. The Wing's KC-135 Stratotankers and C-141 Starlifters enable it to effectively perform a worldwide mission 365 days a year. It is the only air mobility wing in the Air Force Reserve Command that possesses all of the elements of an air mobility wing. The 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) is a tenant unit at March Air Reserve Base assigned to the Air Mobility Command and the California Air National Guard.
      The 4th Air Force, part of Air Force Reserve Command, is headquartered at March ARB. Air Force Reserve Command provides trained units and individuals to accomplish assigned taskings in support of national objectives, and performs peacetime missions that are compatible with training and mobilization readiness requirements. Responsibilities include airlift and refueling duties. It also provides functional mission support units, including aerial port operations, civil engineer, security forces, intelligence, military training, communications, mobility support, combat logistics support, transportation and services.

Some of the Exhibits at March Air Museum

NCO Club, circa 1954